Meik Wiking is the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark and he spends his days studying what makes people happy. One idea he has discovered is the concept of Hygge (pronounced Hoo-ga). In his book, The Little Book of Hygge, Wiking tells us that hygge is a Danish word which loosely translates to “an atmosphere that is warm, relaxed, friendly, down-to-earth, close, comfortable, snug, and welcoming” (39). Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
In addition to being about a cozy, safe, homey atmosphere, hygge is also about relationships and being with people we love.
Being with other people is a key part of hygge, but as a happiness researcher, I can also testify that it might be the most important ingredient to happiness. There is broad agreement among happiness researchers and scientists that social relations are essential for people’s happiness” (Wiking 42).
Things that are hygge tend to stimulate the release of the feel-good hormone oxytocin. Think about cuddling with loved ones or pets, warmth and fullness. This hormone also helps to increase social connection, trust, love and cooperation all while also decreasing hostility. Wiking says, “Perhaps it is not a coincidence that everything that has to do with hygge makes us feel happy, calm, and safe” (41).
To make something more hygge, include:
- Hot drinks
- Warm blankets
- Cozy socks
- Hearty stews
- A sweet treat
- Board games
- A few close friends
Think back on a time when you enjoyed this feeling of hygge. Describe what you remember about how the moment looked and felt. What can you do to add some elements of hygge into your life this week?
References: Wiking, Meik. The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living. NewYork, Harper Collins, 2017.